Monday, April 27, 2009

Andrew Cures Insomnia!

(Lucy, from 'Insecurities', presses the door bell. A few moments later, the doors open and Andrew stands there. He regards her with evident suspicion.)


(Andrew speaks in an unfriendly rasp not unlike Paul Darrow.)

ANDREW: Hello.

LUCY: I was just passing. Is Dave in?

ANDREW: You tell me.

LUCY: So... he isn't?

ANDREW: What makes you think I'd know?

LUCY: You live here.


LUCY: I thought you did. You answered the door.

ANDREW: And only those who live in a residence answer their residence's door?

LUCY: I thought you lived here.


LUCY: Dave told me.

ANDREW: Dave told you. And he told you he'd be here now?


ANDREW: So either he lied or he didn't know if he'd be here or not.

LUCY: Guess so.

ANDREW: And if Dave doesn't know if he'd be here or not, why should I know?

LUCY: Well. He didn't know at the time, but he probably does now.

ANDREW: Probably. So there's a chance he still doesn't know.

LUCY: He'll know where he is. I just wanted to know if you know if he's here. Since you live here to, with Nigel and that girl Eve.

ANDREW: What makes you think I live here?

LUCY: Dave told me.

ANDREW: And assuming he was telling the truth, he only told you what was true at the time. I may not still be living here at the moment.

LUCY: If you're not living here, why are you here.

ANDREW: I answered the door.

LUCY: So you were inside the house?

ANDREW: You tell me.

LUCY: I think you were.

ANDREW: You think. So you don't know.

LUCY: No. I don't know for absolute certain. That's why I'm asking. Do you live here?

ANDREW: Where?

LUCY: The house around you.

ANDREW: Is it around me?

LUCY: It looks like it does.

ANDREW: So you're basing your conclusion on what your eyes tell you.

LUCY: It's a habit. You're answering the door of a residence I've been reliably informed you live in, so if you don't live there, what are you doing there?

ANDREW: Answering the door.

LUCY: But what were you doing before the doorbell rang?

ANDREW: You tell me.

LUCY: Why?

ANDREW: My memory may not be reliable.

LUCY: But mine is?

ANDREW: You are the one always talking about what you remember.

LUCY: And do you remember who I am?

ANDREW: The person I've been talking to for the last few minutes.

LUCY: And you can't think of a better description?

ANDREW: Such as?

LUCY: Lucy? Lucy Gau? From high school?

ANDREW: Is that a better description?

LUCY: Yes.

ANDREW: But my description is far more accurate than yours. You refer to events in the past, I refer to the near-present.

LUCY: I'm still Lucy.

ANDREW: Are you?

LUCY: Yes. Don't you remember?

ANDREW: Memory is unreliable.

LUCY: That's not what I asked.

ANDREW: Even if I remember the name 'Lucy Gau', remember meeting someone with that name in high school, how do I know it was you?

LUCY: Do I look any different?

ANDREW: I remember a girl with a similar face. But since my memory is unreliable, I may be imprinting your features over someone similar. But not identical.

LUCY: That's not a racist joke, is it?

ANDREW: You tell me.

LUCY: You don't think I'm the girl from high school?

ANDREW: Half the student population were girls. My year alone had a hundred students. The chances of you being there are remote but not impossible.

LUCY: Yeah. I was there. I'm Lucy.

ANDREW: Are you?

LUCY: I remember what you did to that pigeon.

ANDREW: A lot of people do. They no doubt told others. That doesn't prove you were there.

LUCY: What would prove I was there?

ANDREW: Perhaps if you knew something that only Lucy knew, something that I knew only Lucy knew.

LUCY: Memory is unreliable.

ANDREW: But not totally. My memories of a high school and yours seem to coincide. Either we're both lying, both insane, or both telling the truth. But we're in accord.

LUCY: Your nickname was Maddog.

ANDREW: But that wasn't exclusive information.

LUCY: Your real name isn't Andrew.

ANDREW: Niether is that. What was my real name?

LUCY: I don't know. What makes you think I should?

ANDREW: Lucy was inquisitive. If she knew my name wasn't Maddog, she would have found out what it truly was.

LUCY: You liked being called Maddog.


LUCY: You never asked to be called anything else.

ANDREW: Maybe I didn't think you'd agree.

LUCY: That's not how you behaved.

ANDREW: But you could still have asked.

LUCY: And would you have told me?

ANDREW: You didn't ask.

LUCY: No. I didn't.

ANDREW: We agree again. But you're curious as to what it was.

LUCY: A bit.

ANDREW: So why didn't you find out at the time?

LUCY: How?

ANDREW: Check with the school records. My real name would have been on the register.

LUCY: Look, you acted like you were happy being Maddog and I thought it would be rude.

ANDREW: So you were content to stay ignorant.

LUCY: Yes.

ANDREW: But not now. You want to know if Dave's in?

LUCY: Yes.

ANDREW: But not much. You could have phoned ahead, quizzed him at Frontier Videos. You could push past me.

LUCY: Believe me, that's getting an attractive option.

ANDREW: So you're prepared to be rude now.

LUCY: You're being rude, too.

ANDREW: Am I? I'm just asking questions.

LUCY: And I'm answering.

ANDREW: As am I.

LUCY: Does your unreliable memory suggest Dave is inside?

ANDREW: Why do you want an unreliable opinion?

LUCY: Better than none.

ANDREW: But since my opinion is unreliable, any answer I give will be untrustworthy. I might lie. There's a fifty-fifty chance he's there. I could say he is, and he is. I could say he isn't, and he isn't. I could say the wrong thing or the right thing.

LUCY: Unlikely, since if you're going to lie you wouldn't warn me.

ANDREW: Unless it was a double bluff.

LUCY: But you have no reason to double bluff me.

ANDREW: Except for the fact you turn up out of the blue, claiming without proof to be a friend from high school and asking me about the location of someone who doesn't know where they are.

LUCY: What proof would satisfy you I am who I am? Come to think of it, how do I know you're Andrew?

ANDREW: You don't. You assumed I was.

LUCY: You didn't contradict me.

ANDREW: Maybe I was being polite.

LUCY: But not being helpful.

ANDREW: Maybe I don't trust you.

LUCY: And how do I earn your trust?

ANDREW: Prove you are who you say you are.

LUCY: What, you want my birth certificate?

ANDREW: If you can prove it's yours.

LUCY: Why would I have someone else's birth certificate?

ANDREW: To pretend to be someone else.

LUCY: They wouldn't give it to me if I wasn't the rightful person.

ANDREW: Unless you found someway to subvert the rules, blackmail them perhaps?

LUCY: Why should I do that?

ANDREW: To convince me you are who you say you are.

LUCY: You think this is a conspiracy?

ANDREW: Can you prove it isn't?

LUCY: Can you prove it is?

ANDREW: No, but then any half-decent conspiracy can cover its own tracks.

LUCY: If I was part of a conspiracy, I wouldn't be drawing attention to myself, would I?

ANDREW: Unless it's a double bluff.

LUCY: Which it might not be.

ANDREW: Precisely what someone bluffing would say.

LUCY: Because it's precisely what someone who isn't bluffing would say.

ANDREW: That makes sense.

LUCY: So it's true.

ANDREW: I wouldn't go that far. It makes sense that you are a liar trying to convince me of your good intentions and character so I won't interfere with your plan. But it also makes sense you are the genuine article and all the circumstancial evidence to the contrary is just a coincidence.


ANDREW: So the facts point to you being a liar and telling the truth at the same time.

LUCY: Unless you're too stupid to tell the difference.

ANDREW: If I cannot tell the difference, why have I mentioned both categories?

LUCY: You have the wrong definitions.

ANDREW: Like jealousy and envy.

LUCY: Yes.

ANDREW: Two different concepts, yet mistaken for each other by lots of people.

LUCY: Yes. And if you're going to say that lots of people believing it makes it true, I'm going to get annoyed.

ANDREW: You dislike the concept of democracy.

LUCY: Well, be fair, it's lead to a stalemate.

ANDREW: How so?

LUCY: I vote I'm genuine, you vote I'm not. Stalemate.

ANDREW: Then proof is required. Proof you are telling the truth or proof you are lying.

LUCY: But what proof will satisfy you? And don't say "you tell me".

ANDREW: Perhaps a driver's license.

LUCY: 'Perhaps'? Can't you think of something certain?

ANDREW: Why should I?

LUCY: You're the one that wanted proof.

ANDREW: What makes you say that?

LUCY: I remember you asking for proof.

ANDREW: Memory is unreliable.

LUCY: Don't you remember asking for proof?

ANDREW: I might have been lying.

LUCY: So, while I maintain I'm telling the truth, you aren't sure if you are.

ANDREW: Does that make me less honest?

LUCY: Only if I'm not telling the truth.

ANDREW: Can you prove you're telling the truth?

LUCY: I can let you try to prove I'm not and watch you fail.

ANDREW: You're certain I'd fail.

LUCY: Yes.

ANDREW: So if I were to get your DNA tested, it would be a forgone conclusion that it would match.

LUCY: Yes.

ANDREW: Unless you've rigged the test somehow.

LUCY: But I haven't.

ANDREW: You might.

LUCY: This test hasn't even happened yet!

ANDREW: But you're still certain you'd pass.

LUCY: I'm certain I'd pass any test without cheating.

ANDREW: And what if you're lying?

LUCY: Look. We've spent ten minutes out here arguing about whether or not I am who I say I am. Why?

ANDREW: Because your identity is in question.

LUCY: Everything is in question. What's the big deal?

ANDREW: You can't prove you are who you say you are.

LUCY: Niether can you. We can't prove everything. The whole world is taken on trust. All we're doing is wasting time, aren't we?

ANDREW: ...Checkmate!

LUCY: What?

ANDREW: Occam's Razor! Hidden Persuaders! Storm Mine!

(Dave approaches)

DAVE: Oh, hi Lucy. (sees Andrew) Oh no.


DAVE: You've been listening to Kaldor City again, haven't you?

ANDREW: You tell me.

(Lucy headbutts Andrew unconscious.)

LUCY: Fuck that got boring quickly.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Robin Hood 3.0 - Smackdown!

(aka Let The Games Commence)

What does it say about me that I find the return of Guisborne more thrilling than the return of the Master (with John Simm's cunning bleached-blond hoodie disguise surely to trigger a new rise of chav hate for fear people who look a bit "council" might be alien war criminals)? Well, for a start it says this gap year business has dropped Doctor Who in my affections. I genuinely could not enjoy the first series episode about Little John and his son, having just seen The Sound of the Drums and finding everything in Nottingham so bloody petty. Who cares if some non-speaking peasants are tortured for money they don't have? Who cares if Vasey gets his rocks off on torture? Once you see six billion Toclafane decimate humanity, you get a bit of perspective.

But not now. The truly-superlative Mr Armitage is back (gosh, remember when he might have been an Eleventh Doctor? Pity fandom immediately committed this atrocity and put me off the idea for life), and when the mere return of a regular character makes things look "epic" it goes to show that Robin Hood really does have the edge over certain new series episodes. Featuring Sontarans. And Martha Jones. And UNIT. Which I didn't really hate, but are nowhere near this sort of quality. For a start, Guisborne doesn't make any quips solely for the purpose of making Next Time... trailers look good.

When Robin saves a damsel in distress - admittedly a cunning, high-kicking kung fu babe with a chip on her shoulder about the establishment - he sets eyes on Guisborne and a horde of extras in Prince John-patented doom armour. The only thing more disturbing than this turn of events is that Gizzy has delt with his issues... and his hair... and seems worryingly sane, even having his own secret camoflagued base deep in the forest. Amazing to think in the previous series he was a comic relief stooge as far as Robin was concerned, but is now the living embodiment of This Is Serious, huh?

Similar thoughts occur to Vasey as he tries to barge in and act like he owns the place - slightly undermined, of course, by the fact he is the only inhabitant of Nottingham Castle, and he's confronting the guy who he metaphorically stabbed in the back and now has a huge freaking army and the full authority of the big boss. I'm surprised Vasey didn't simply leg it, but, of course, he doesn't have anywhere to leg it to. And the Sheriff's unease grows when he realizes his normal insults and campery have no effect on Gizzy, who is here to finish off Robin Hood once and for all. Vasey points out that Gizzy has never managed it before... ever... and via some very crude psychology tries to get Gizzy to appoint him as tactical advisor.

"This time it will be different," Gizzy explains calmly when reminded of the last time he failed to get Hood in a reference so generic I honestly can't guess which episode it refers to. "This time I will command the mission without incompetent, ill-concieved interference from others. I will not have need of you. Ever again."

For that alliterative abuse, Gizzy, you recieve Man of Fist!

Meanwhile, the Merry Men are arguing about dinner as Much wonders if maybe Kate could take over the cooking for a change (she's clearly been with them a while, enough to get a patented outlaw hairdo) but this leads to Alan's side-splitting "Much is a girl!" jokes, which as Much points out suggest some kind of alpha male insecurity on Alan's part. I wonder where this is leading, apart from the obvious duel over blondie's affections. One thing is for sure, Kate's slightly reminiscent of a certain Powell Estate resident when Robin turns up with a new brunette and warns them Gizzy's back on the manor and there's a new poison in their forest!!

Delighted that the authorities are finally sending in the big gunsTuck leads them on an Eric-Olthwaite-style chase through the forest, none of them bar Robin suspecting that Guisborne has been planning this longer than JMS and suggests they split up. Kate and new girl Isabella of course team up for maximum catfight potential (especially as Izzy's shown a better-depicted character in two scenes than Kate managed in her first three episodes). Little John meanwhile falls foul of Big Bertha, lovable granny and pro-wrestler, who at first glance seems to be being attacked by thugs, but is actually training her fellow combatants. However, John as always has a knack with aging females and is almost immediately signed up as a wrestler (albeit one with leprosy who wears a giant animal head) and saved by Bertha from Prince John's soldiers. He's doing a lot better than the others who are herded back into each other.

Trapped, Gizzy doesn't mince words, but sets a man-eating lion on them. you do.

Now, just to pause here. The male lion, generally speaking, is only dangerous if threatened or hungry. Even if it's some kind of attack lion, it's still not necessarily going to be able to defeat six sword-wielding outlaws, especially when Robin has one arrow left to shoot between the animal's eyes. Pretty much the only way this "ultimate weapon" can work is if the RSPCA are going to magically prevent the outlaws from defending themselves. Or, you know, if the lion is just a distraction before the soldiers open fire with arrows and kill them all. On the plus side, it's a genuine lion and not either CGI or a castoff from The Chronicles of Narnia. On the downside, it's clearly tame and arthritic and more interested in sniffing the grass than killing its hapless victims. On the even MORE downside, everyone acts like it's death on wheels when it would be funnier, and arguably truer to life, if they admitted the lion was completely useless. Clearly the script editor decided to go with it as a deliberately bad effect (like last week's arrow or the 'panthers' in Team America: World Police), and so Isabella uses some handy gas bombs to let them escape.

Vasey meanwhile, is definitely cracking up. Using all his mighty powers of bullying and persuasion, he's managed to get him two guards and a straight man, but his patter is not what it was - the merchants aren't interested in his threats any more, don't believe he's Prince John's bosom buddy, and Vasey's brilliant plan of taxing them at the start of the month means there's always going to be less cash, even if he could be sure that none of them were short-changing him. The fact he's killed, betrayed and driven away anyone and everyone who could possibly get out of this mess, Vasey decides to... spend every last penny he has buying farm animals! Of course! You hear that, Obama? Buy up agriculture shares and the credit crisis will be over in no time! When Big Bertha turns up, however, things become slightly more credible - Bertha's an old enemy of Vasey, and only came to Nottingham in the belief he was no longer Sheriff. Vasey is willing to let her live in return for 200 crowns, but settles for 100 crowns (made off bets on the wrestlers) and the death of Robin Hood's outlaws. Little John, suffice to say, is in for a shock...

Another spectacular episode, let down over the Sheriff's baffling "buy cows" plan which is never explained or even referred to ever again. The episode's depiction of Guisborne sans Vasey and Marion is a highlight, but it's quite clear the guy's just too damn good and the introduction of Marion's replacement as cute noble lady who causes him to have miniature nervous breakdowns smacks even more of plot device than ever. About five seconds after meeting her, our calm villain is freaking out, shouting, knocking over things and also (as Vasey notes) 'snatching defeat from the jaws of victory' as Robin once again triumphs and wipes out Guisborne's army. Just goes to show what the Merry Men can achieve without a traitor in their ranks and their leader's hormones out of controls - though it's nice that, in a reversal of Marion, it's Robin Isabella is messing with rather than Gizzy, and thus gets shouted at for her lies and deciet. The sight of Guisborne and his girl returning to Nottingham is only saved from the groaning reset switch it seems to be by the fact Gizzy still isn't impressed with Vasey, and, of course, the next episode suggesting the status quo has far from returned.

It's also worth remembering that the Merry Men were planning to meet up at Nottingham, cause I forgot that and boggled as to how Robin and the gang sudden appeared to save John, even though they had no way of knowing he was in any danger... or even if he was there at all. Some good asskicking from the gentle giant this week, but everyone else is pretty much sidelined. Much and Alan in particular only have their 'you're a girl' argument to stand out of the crowd, but this is a pretty action-packed episode.

Maybe in the future the RH Restoration Team might provide a half decent lion...

"Long live me."
Prince John finally visits Nottingham to find out what all the fuss is about. Needless to say things escalate as Kate and Vasey find themselves facing certain death in very different circumstances...

Oh, and Mad Larry still can't come up with anything to say about Robin Hood.

Monday, April 20, 2009

NOT! 10th Doctor to 11th Doctor: The regeneration scene

Ok, here is a 2nd draft regeneration scene marking the debut of Matt Smith's Doctor:

Scene 1 – London Street

[The Tenth Doctor, Donna and her granddad Wilf are fleeing down the street pursued by soldiers.]

DONNA: Wait! I’m confused! Why are they chasing us?

10TH DOCTOR: It’s the Bastard! He’s staging a coup to take over England! Why he’s being so hamfisted and unimaginative, I don’t know.

DONNA: So are the soldiers working for the Bastard?


WILF: I thought you said they was androids!

10TH DOCTOR: [blows out cheeks] Well... they’re androids dressed as soldiers. That good enough?

WILF: If he’s got androids and he doesn’t care about making a fuss, why disguise them? Oh, I can’t go on, Doctor. I’ve completely lost the plot. I’ve got no idea what the fuck is going on. Leave me, take Donna and go!

DONNA: No way! We won’t leave you, gramps. We’re not total fuckwits!

10TH DOCTOR: You’ll just have to move faster old man!

[They turn and stare at him. He grins.]

10TH DOCTOR: I know. Brilliant impersonation of your mother, eh, Donna?

[Suddenly a car speeds up with men leaning out firing shots.]

DONNA: Do they have something to do with the Bastard or are they just random chavs?

10TH DOCTOR: No idea! Right – when I say "run" we split up, head down the side streets, through some alleyways and meet up at the heart of Soho!

DONNA: You mean Old Compton Street?

10TH DOCTOR: The very same! ALLONZEE!

[He prepares to sprint off, but Donna puts a hand on his arm and stops him.]

DONNA: Doctor.

10TH DOCTOR: What?

DONNA: We’re in Old Compton Street already.

10TH DOCTOR: [after a beat] Oh. Jings.

[The car speeds past them. They watch it run over the android soldiers.]

DONNA: Guess they were random hoodies after all. You okay, gramps?

WILF: No. I’m cream crackered and me leg’s gone numb.

DONNA: My god! He’s started using rhyming slang! It must be delirium!

10TH DOCTOR: And they say exercise is good for the old. If you don’t lose it you use it… or maybe the other way round? Enough of this self-pity, Wilf. Let me give you a hand...

[Two black-clad women in skimpy skirts approach.]

STEREOTYPICAL PROSTITUTE # 1: Ere, you looking for company ducky?

10TH DOCTOR: Not really.

DONNA: I hardly think he’d be interested in you. Daft tart!

10TH DOCTOR: What?!

DONNA: Impersonating my mum too. It’s funny, huh?

STEREOTYPICAL PROSTITUTE # 2: Ere, who are you callin’ daft? Ugly cow.

10TH DOCTOR: Excuse me, you HAVE noticed the android uprising going on, haven’t you?

STEREOTYPICAL PROSTITUTE # 1: How’s about we give you a good time?

[Wilf groans.]

WILF: I’m having a heart attack! What do you fucking reckon!?

DONNA: My god! They’re androids too, aren’t they?

10TH DOCTOR: Jings, he has android street walkers now? What kind of diseased mind is behind all this? You know, in the old days, he really had some imagination.


[The Doctor takes out his sonic screwdriver and zaps the two prosti-droids, who explode.]

10TH DOCTOR: At this rate, he’ll have defeated himself before I have to! Fancy a drink?

DONNA: What? Mingle with customers and they won’t think to look for us in a bar?

10TH DOCTOR: Exactamundo, Donna! It’s so completely retarded and uncharacteristic, they’ll never see it coming.

[They turn and enter the bar right behind them while the hoodies do donuts on the android soldiers. The bar’s neon sign is "The Absinthe Aberrant".]

Scene 2 – The Absinthe Aberrant

[As would be expected for such a crummy pub populated by gay Colchester history teachers, the clientele are all 40-year-old bald, spectacled alcoholics on the verge of absinthe-induced psychotics. The Doctor and Donna enter and help Wilf into a seat.]

DONNA: Doctor, I think this is a gay bar.

10TH DOCTOR: What gave it away? Just keep a low profile...

[An incredibly decrepit homosexual in a wig and with a perpetual squint grabs the Doctor and kisses him.]

10TH DOCTOR: Excuse me? Do I know you?

DONNA: Oi! That’s assault, you know.

MARK GOACHER: No, I think you’ll find this is assault.

[So saying, he stabs the Doctor in the stomach with a knife and throws him to the ground.]

10TH DOCTOR: Jings...

WILF: You’re not doing gay pride any favors, mate.

[The wretched cutthroat takes out his mobile and rings it.]

MARK GOACHER: Hello? Mr. Bastard? Target located and eliminated! Hmm? No, I just stabbed him in the stomach. "Which stomach"? How many does he have? Oh. That many. That’s a lot. Oh, well, I suggest YOU hunt him down and murder him then. I have a degree, you know!

[He pushes his way past the customers and leaves. The customers see the Doctor, bleeding to death on the floor, cheer very loudly and start engaging in sexual activity.]

DONNA: Ere! Isn’t anyone going to ring an ambulance or something? There’s an injured man here!

10TH DOCTOR: Jings, can’t you lot do that somewhere else? Bad enough I’m dying without having to see this...

WILF: I tell you, this sets back homosexual relations ten years, this place.

[The Doctor starts to glow ethereally, a mini tidal wave swirling out through his flesh.]

10TH DOCTOR: For fuck’s sake, I can’t even think of something witty to say...

[The Doctor convulses in a simultaneously agonizing and euphoric spasm. His face literally contorts, morphing, growing and transforming before the gaze of Donna and Wilf until he has a new body and not a trace of last Doctor remains.]

WILF: Doctor?

DONNA: Doctor? Are you ok?

[The Doctor’s eyes blink open, bright and alive, shining in the light of his own rebirth.]

DOCTOR: [dazed] I was, like, "Yeah!" and she was, like, "Yeah!"

DONNA: Doctor?

DOCTOR: Love the new floppy hair. Wicked! I’m, like, young again! Yay! Where am I?

WILF: In a bar surrounded by horny men who seem to fancy your new body.

[One of the copulating history teachers looks up.]

RANDOM GAY MAN: She’s right. Vast improvement, I must say.

[Deeply annoyed, the Doctor leaps to his new feet.]

DOCTOR: Like, fuck you! You guys did, like, nothing and let me died! Screw this, the Bastard can kill you all – you’ve made me hate homosexuality in every possible sense! I’m not a hundred per cent sure who any of you, like, are, but I don’t care! In fact, I want you all dead!

[He uses his sonic screwdriver to cause all the absinthe bottles to explode in flame. All the gay men are set afire and run around screaming in pain as the new Doctor, Donna and Wilf watch on.]

DOCTOR: Yeah, like, not so fucking amusing NOW, is it? Sod it, I’m off to Cornwall...


Robin Hood 3.0 - Taxman Cometh! AGAIN!

(aka Sins of the Father)

Ah! Sins of the Father – the title any decent TV show uses sooner or later. I’m surprised Doctor Who hasn’t done that one yet, especially since I once wrote a story with that title. Maybe because it’s so bleeding universal. You could fit it around pretty much any story, from the first one with the Daleks to Robots of Death to Full Circle to The Doctor’s Daughter. The debt of ancient mistakes being paid by those in the present. Unlikely, sadly, that this week’s episode will be Hinchliffe-era Hammer Horror parody.

Another thing I’ve noticed with Season 3 is the shocking lack of character catchphrases. Since returning from the Holy Land, Robin has never once had half a plan, Little John has not thought it a good day to die, Alan hasn’t not been funny, Guisborne has not been overestimated and no one’s in any way been Robin Hood. No wonder Much doesn’t note how much he hates sayings. Most noticeable of all is the Sheriff’s lack of saying "A clue: no", but nil desperandum, he’s got a new one:



See, if he was wearing a gasmask, you heathens would all be loving it.

Yep, Vasey has officially hit rock bottom. For the first time ever we see the ugly little ratfaced git with no plan and no hope, and starting to show the signs of a truly impressive persecution complex. All his cunning plots have left him with absolutely sweet FA and receiving the third and final reminder about the 1000 crowns he needs to pay his protection money. Gripped with powerless paranoia, Vasey is convinced that Gizzy has somehow survived (duh) and has teamed up with Prince John to destroy him (a scenario Adam and Jamie would dub "plausible"). His last, not even best, hope is that his new comedy sidekick (Kevin Eldon as the giggly accountant) is right that Ruthless Rufus the Tax Man will be able to bleed Nottingham dry in time to pay the King. Of course, that can only save Vasey for a MONTH if he’s lucky enough not to be charged interest.

Meantime, it seems to be a training day for the merry men as Much is given the initiative test for stealing a wagon full of food. His cunning plan requires a swarm of CGI locusts, rotten tomatoes and a barn full of more wagon-assembling material than you’d find in the normal grand prix. But blow me, it works anyway and the half-naked, badly stung guards are left trying to explain the mess to Vasey. But it turns out that the sinister Pertweeish chap who watched everything unfold with wry amusement is none other than Ruthless Rufus himself – with his Spike-like unorthodox methods and very personal axe to grind against the town, he’s without doubt the most dangerous one-off villain since Harold Winchester.

As Vasey says, "You make Guisborne look all warm and snuggly."

His first act is to head to Loxley and terrorize Kate's mother. As you can imagine, this is emotionally very confusing for me as we're clearly supposed to be horrified at Rufus' psycho rage as he smashes her thriving pot business (by which I mean painted urns, rather than anything more interesting) and screams that, "If you are weak then hope is worthless! Life picks on little people!"... yet idly I want to see if they kill the bitch. "Do you want her to live?" he sneers to the audience. Um, well, now you come to mention it...

Kate also isn't quite as timewasting as she was in the previous two episodes, as she's a god-fearing tax-paying citizen of England who has never had a bad credit rating and logically assumes to be exempt because Vasey's not gone completely mad and abandoned any pretence of lawful governership.

Oh, wait, he has! Tough luck there, Kate, but at least you have a second dimension now.

With her entire home and house destroyed with such ease I wonder if it was some kind of OHS nightmare waiting to happen, Kate is forced to become a prostitute and whore herself out to Rufus (her mum's "Take me instead!" is more disturbing than noble, I must say) and some rather uncomfortable scenes follow as he takes her to Loxley Manor - by the way, is that yellow-and-black radiation symbol Guisborne's coat of arms? - and demands a lap dance. Meantime, the Merry Men try to put out the fires that have started thanks to Rufus' demolition policy as John realizes that their appreciative fan from the pre-credit sequence is the new taxman. "Where's Guisborne?!" boggles Robin, having finally noticed his favorite suicidal Goth hasn't been seen for a month, though given his normal post-Marion behavior of lying in bed all day, maybe that's expected.

This leads to a genuinely amusing sequence where Robin and Much try to outcool each other in saving Kate, only for both to be slightly undermined by the fact by the time they get there, she's about to knife the asshole and in her words "coping fine on her own". Of course, if Much requests wasting his machismo, it doesn't help when Rufus bitchslaps him near unconscious in the middle of his "I've come to save a maiden in distress" speech which he's clearly been practicing. Poor Much. Our heroes flee, with Kate realizing her funky knife tricks have made her Nottinham's most wanted, so she either joins the Merry Men or just plain gets the fuck out of this series. (In fairness to Ms Froggart, she's much better this week, being given a script for a change - unlike her mother, who continues to earn Fist In Face.)

Having finally escaped her dreadful family, Kate undergoes a hulk-like metamorphosis into Lucie Miller and starts bitching about everything in a shockingly impressive Sheridan Smith impersonation. Seriously, I wondered if she was being dubbed for that bit. On the bright side, Alan at least won't put up with her shit and reminds her that if she wants to rely on the kindness of strangers, being kind is pretty much the smartest way to go about it. "Kate being sarcastic, Kate being ungrateful," he tuts. As ever, Little John is the best one for dealing with hysterical women while old Tuck has to wait 20 minutes into the episode for his first line of dialogue. Dear me.

Back at the castle, Vasey makes yet another decision you can imagine his pre-Acre self would have scoffed at: he rents out his entire palace army to the King of Northumberland for a quick buck, even though it leaves him completely unprotected. Actually, the part of this development that bugs me is Eldon's "rubbing cash in his fingers" gesture to indicate money. Did they HAVE paper money back then? I'm surprised his hand gestures didn't indicate Parkinson's disease. Maybe it's all those episodes of Big Train, but I don't trust the guy. The now defenseless castle goes into lockdown, and Rufus begins his "Viking rape and pillage" manner of tax collection... which works! With the cash rolling in, Vasey's confidence rises the point he can even "lah de dah de dah"!

Alas, with only five soldiers around in Nottingham, it's less difficult than ever for the Merry Persons to break in, kidnap Rufus and escape with the blighter... or so they think. Unfortunately, Vasey kept these soldiers for a reason, as they're the smartest warriors available. Trapping the gang in an alleyway too narrow for Little John to open a can of whupass (at least until he comes up with a very lateral approach), Alan and Kate stay at the Sheriff's pleasure while the others manage to slapstick their way to the forest. But Rufus follows and he's just not gullible enough to fall for the old "hide in the bush while the horses keep running" business like dear Gizzy once did. In a moment unresistrained viciousness, he chains Kate and Alan together so they can harmonize and bond... what a bastard! Still, there has to be SOMETHING to stop her being such a cow, and Alan's biting remarks that he's known far prettier women cuts her down to size.

We then get a nice compare-and-contrast sequence as Tuck and Vasey interrogate tied up traitors. Just in case we forgot how bloody scary Vasey can be, even with every last advantage taken from him. "Underneath this harsh surface," the Sheriff whispers, "I'm deeply sensitive. No, that's a lie. Underneath this harsh surface is just more harsh surface!" Nevertheless, he probably wishes he wasn't so blood thirsty when he realizes that, Omega Man style, he is the only human being left in the castle...

You know, I could be wrong, but given the overall quality of this episode, and Kate in particular, it makes me think that this was originally the first episode she appeared in - for whatever reason, she was retroactively added to the previous two episodes in a last second rewrite by a different author. This is the first time, after all, she's actually been an indispensible part of the plot, and even Much's crush on her is ambiguous enough to retcon that she's just been a village girl he'd fancied his whole life rather than meeting her a few weeks ago. Only the very, very bad bit where Kate's mum bitches at Robin for looking after her offspring better than she does refers to earlier scenes, and seems as edited in as everything else Tollinger related so far. There is also THE most ludicrous arrow trick I have ever seen. The closest comparison would be the climax of Reckless Kelly. But then, that's the entire point - something the genetic detritus of DWF just doesn't get.

A staggering return to form. Let's hope Aaronovitch or whoever script edited the first two doesn't come back...

"You're looking well for a dead man, Guisborne!"
With the entire army of Prince John on his side, Gizzy plans to exterminate Robin Hood once and for all - and only a certain brunette lady swordfighter can stop him now. One question... what the fuck is that animal-mask pro-celebrity wrestling about!??

And no, Mad Larry hasn't written another word about Robin Hood.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FFS, Spara (Easter Special)

Scene 21 – Outside the Goat & Poofter

[As before. The Doctor, Spartha and the troika are standing over the lifeless body of Sparacus, tied up beside the bins.]

NIGEL: I say we just get the hell out of here and leave those two to die horribly trying to thwart an evil corporation with childish pranks?

DAVE: [to Nigel] I say you’re right.

ANDREW: [to Dave] I say you’re right.

[They turn and walk off. Spartha looks at them, then at the Doctor, then turns and walks off.]

DOCTOR: Awww. This sucks!

[Behind him, Sparacus suddenly awakes, bursting out of his incredibly pathetic STRING bonds. He rises up behind the Doctor, who screams like a girl at the monster towering over him. At the last second, Sparacus stops and stares into the camera.]

SPARACUS: Don’t forget to tune in for the next thrilling installment of this long-awaited classic episode, folks! It’s much better than the current TV specials, that’s for sure! You don’t find RTD providing such high-quality Doctor Who material to an appreciative audience, do you?

[It turns back to see the Doctor has scarpered.]


[The Time Lord flees down the street and Sparacus gallops after his running figure. The Doctor turns a corner and tries the door to a shop covered in bloody handprints, but its locked and precious seconds are wasted on the lost cause of trying to open it as the monster draws closer and closer. The Doctor fearfully looks at the monster, tries the door one last time, then runs off. He turns another corner and sees the TARDIS at the end of the alleyway. Suddenly Sparacus lurches from the darkness right in front of him. The Doctor screams and runs past it to the police box but the door is shut.]

DOCTOR: Oh wow! You gotta, like, be kidding me!

[He turns as Sparacus suddenly breaks into a run, arms extended towards the helpless teenager. Behind the Doctor, the door swings inwards, a hairy arm reaches out, grabs the scruff of the Time Lord’s neck and drags him inside, slamming the door shut in the monster’s face.]

Scene 22 – TARDIS Airlock

[The Doctor is pulled through a pair of sliding doors by Andrew as Dave presses a button the wall next to it. The doors slide shut. They are standing on a metal-grille-floor in a corridor ending in glass doors beyond which is the control room.]

DOCTOR: Thanks for that, like, dudes.

DAVE: We knew you wouldn’t be able to cope. So now what?

ANDREW: Oooh, do you think the Last of the Time Lords will want to run away?

DOCTOR: Damn right!

[He strides over to the glass doors, which slide open as they approach.]

Scene 23 – TARDIS Control Room

[The room is decorated with two rings of large roundels, each about a third the height of the room. There is an archway going over the central console and more roundels on the ceiling. The console is circular and with eight control panels. The scanner looks like a large, old-fashioned TV set with control dials in the bottom right corner. There is a lamp and a second set of controls on a flat work surface by one of the walls. Nigel and Spartha Jones stand by the console as the Doctor, Andrew and Dave enter.]

ANDREW: So we leave the world to suffer the fate you should have prevented. How mature.

DOCTOR: Like, you know, whatever, man! How about a trip to Alzaneran 4, like?

NIGEL: You think that’s adequate recompense for us saving your worthless life?

DOCTOR: Aw, seriously, Nige – you’ll love legendary Museum of the Crystal Caves! It’s totally the largest depositary of archaeological finds and techniques in the galaxy!

NIGEL: And... why should that interest us?

DOCTOR: Well, you know. The lost civilization of the Clanacs was pretty cool. I mean, they left so much shit around the place, they must have been massive. Some of the technology used to date those things was, like, phenomenal. The rest of the technology was kinda crap, pointed sticks and stuff...

DAVE: Why don’t you use your time machine and see them before they were lost, then?

DOCTOR: Awesome! I wish I’d, like, thought of that! OK, how’s about we take another trip to see the Clanac Empire?

SPARTHA: I think a rest is in order from this archaeological business. Some of us have a limited interest in such matters.

DOCTOR: Who says, like, YOU were invited, bitch?

NIGEL: Yeah. What makes you think we want you around? You’re a warped, repressing, psychotic cow with the morals of an alley cat and the IQ of a Kath and Kim fan! No one sane would want to spend time with you of their own free will!

DAVE: Why the hell are you with us anyway? You don’t LIKE us, you don’t LIKE time travel, so why did you come with us in the TARDIS?

ANDREW: Maybe she requires a daily amount of things to bitch about?

[Spartha scowls.]

ANDREW: AND you scowl too much.

SPARTHA: That is a stupid thing to say.

NIGEL: I know. But my point that you’re a mindlessly negative bitch will stand up in court.

SPARTHA: I simply have different interests to you.

DAVE: what? You only enjoys getting drunk and insulting Rose. You don’t find ANYTHING interesting!

SPARTHA: Why is it all men are overgrown fourteen year olds?

DOCTOR: All men? Isn’t that a rather stupid thing to say, like? Maybe it’s because you’re such a bitchy killjoy no one likes, Spartha? Or is this, like, your way of announcing you are now gay?

SPARTHA: Don’t talk back to me, numbnuts!

[Andrew puts a friendly arm around her shoulders.]

ANDREW: Spartha my dear, would you like us overgrown fourteen year olds to gang up on you, throw you out the doors and leave to your fate?

SPARTHA: [rolls eyes] Of course not, numbnuts.

[Andrew grabs her by the neck and screams in her face with inhuman volume.]


[He releases her. She stares blankly ahead catatonic. His companions examine her.]

DAVE: Wow. She has!

ANDREW: Ah. [dusts hands] I could listen to her all night when she’s like this.

NIGEL: I’m almost impressed.

[They finally notice the Doctor is not paying attention, as he is on his mobile.]

DOCTOR: I was, like, "Yeah!" and she was, like, "How come?" and I was, like, "Yeah!" and she was, like, "No kidding?!" and I was, like, "Well mingin’!" and she was like...


DOCTOR: [covers mouthpiece] Yeah, what?

NIGEL: What are you doing, you offense to intelligent design?

DOCTOR: Just, you know. Making a call to a friend. From Facebook. OK? [to phone] Like, where was I?

[Dave is peering at a circular porthole in the wall through which the outside world can be seen. The growling Sparacus can be seen staggering towards them.]

DAVE: Shit! If this TARDIS is as impressive as you are, that thing will break in any minute!

ANDREW: [nods] The outlook is bleak!

NIGEL: What are we gonna do?

ANDREW: [impressively] Wing it.

[Andrew starts flipping controls on the console.]

NIGEL: Are you sure you know what you’re doing?

ANDREW: Haven’t a clue.

NIGEL: What?!

ANDREW: You want Skins boy there to take over?

NIGEL: ...carry on.

ANDREW: Don’t panic Nigel. All we have to do activate the automatic site locators, feed in the landing coordinates while using the X sensor.

DAVE: That’s all?

ANDREW: Yeah. Should be a simple button on the site-location console.

DAVE: And where’s that?

ANDREW: Beats me.

[He crosses to the second set of controls and pulls a lever across. The central column starts to rise and fall. Various hums and sounds emit from the console. The fish creature outside the portal dissolves into the LSD horror of the time vortex.]

ANDREW: There we go. Safe and sound. I should do this professionally.

[A rippling eddy that shakes the craft around and on its axis. Some of the smaller, more delicate components in the console expire in small showers of sparks, and the room rocks from a large explosion.]

NIGEL: Well, after that brief dabbling with the unknown, a return to your usual standards, Andrew!

ANDREW: Hey, if the pilot didn’t take phone calls while driving, there’d probably be less crashes!

[Andrew and Dave try to coax some reaction from the many consoles and panels ranged before them while avoiding showers of sparks thrown out by the sensitive equipment.]

DAVE: What the hell’s happening?

[The Doctor pisses about with a fire extinguisher, spraying it liberally around the control room.]

DOCTOR: It’s a mega time displacement fissure!

ANDREW: A fissure inside time displacement? How does that work?

NIGEL: Does that actually mean anything or are you just making noise?

DOCTOR: For a few moments, like, the natural flow of time was completely thrown off balance!

DAVE: Can you see the oxymoron there? Can you?

DOCTOR: Someone or something’s, like, using primitive time travel equipment. If they’re trying to change history or that, like, we could get the mingin’ Dommervoy! Or, you know, like, a time rupture could occur.

SPARTHA: [frowning] And is this dangerous, do you think?

NIGEL: Who cares if it’s dangerous, we’re right in the middle of it!

[Dave flips up a hatch on the console and presses his hand into the mould beneath. There is a bright flare of light, and every molecule in the room flies outwards at the speed of light... and reforms, with a rather nice reverse explosion effect, back to normal. Everyone looks around.]

DOCTOR: Like, wow! How did you know how to do that?

[Dave closes the hatch and points to it. It is marked "USE IN CASE OF MEGA TIME DISPLACEMENT FISSURE". An awkward pause. Nigel leans between the two to look at the hatch then turns to the Doctor.]

NIGEL: You’re pathetic.

[The Doctor slams his hand on his floppy-haired head. Andrew looks out the porthole, which now shows some bushes and sunshine.]

ANDREW: Anyone have any idea where we are?

DOCTOR: I do, actually, like. We’ve tracked the source of the energy...

NIGEL: What energy?

DOCTOR: You know. The energy.

DAVE: What energy? We were in a "Mega Time Displacement Fissure"! There wasn’t any energy!

DOCTOR: Well, like, anyway, we’re at the cause of it.

SPARTHA: Which is?

DOCTOR: Somewhere near London.

DAVE: England, again? Sheesh...

ANDREW: The grounds of Hampton Court Palace?

DOCTOR: [suspicious] Maybe.

ANDREW: It just that there’s a sign out there, look. [points] Not to mention all the tourists milling around.

DOCTOR: Oh, I love visiting this place like. There’s so much history and heritage, like, bound up here.

DAVE: So what? You’ve got a time machine, you idiot. You can visit the original Tudor period for crying out loud!

DOCTOR: Yeah, but have you seen the Queen Anne rooms? The Georgian rooms? Like, superb! Most people, like, think Henry VIII built this place, but he actually won it in a Cornflakes competition held by Cardinal Wolsey...

[The others yawn with boredom.]

ANDREW: OK, I say we get out here and walk?

NIGEL: Seconded.

DAVE: Motion carried.

[The troika turn and walk out of the airlock while the Doctor continues to talk crap to himself, looking out the porthole. Spartha wanders after them.]

DOCTOR: You know there’s the largest, like, grape vine in the world here? They call it the Great Vine! What a brilliant name! You know, I might stop and check that out. It’s not like the world is in danger, right, is it? Oh wait. It is. Still, like, I can work around that when I try and, like, find the source of that time displacement. Anyone? Hello?

[He realizes he’s alone.]

DOCTOR: Jerks.

Scene 24 – Tudor Hall

[The troika mingle with tourists as they wander past a wall with some generic paintings on it.]

DAVE: Where to now?

NIGEL: Out of here before my brain atrophies. Can you believe people pay twelve pounds entrance free to this celebration of tedium? No wonder there’s a credit crisis. I mean, who cares about this pile of crumbling brickwork? Maintenance and upkeep? Pah! Wasting precious space and resources by celebrating those still dead and not those currently with us.

ANDREW: Very erudite, Nigel. You should run the heritage trust.

NIGEL: Should I?

ANDREW: Well, someone should.

DAVE: Can you smell something?

NIGEL: Probably the drains acting up. What a waste of time this vacation has been.

ANDREW: We met a monster, an alien and traveled in a time machine.

NIGEL: We met a monster, a non-functional retard and travelled from one bit of England to another. Big deal.

ANDREW: Good point. Well made.

[The Doctor runs into view, waving a generic bit of sci-fi equipment.]

DOCTOR: Hey, dudes!


DOCTOR: But this device, like, detects residual energy from time travel! It, like, has readings what say the energy, is like, coming below us.

ANDREW: It’s faulty.

DOCTOR: No it’s not!

ANDREW: Then why didn’t it lead you back to the TARDIS then? Doesn’t that have residual time travel energy?

[The Doctor stops in his tracks.]

DOCTOR: Um... Oh.

NIGEL: Typical. You are beyond worthless.

DAVE: Are you sure you can’t smell something?

NIGEL: Like what?


DAVE: Yeah. That’s it. [coughs] I didn’t know they had gas chambers in Tudor buildings.

DOCTOR: Oh no! [looks round frantically] Like, everyone get down!

NIGEL: Now is hardly the time for disco!

DOCTOR: No, you see, gas floats so it’s safer to be at ground level!

ANDREW: [beyond disgusted] "Gas floats"? "Gas"? "Floats"? What the fuck are you on about now? First blood’s a chemical and now gas floats?!

DOCTOR: SOME gases do!

DAVE: And surely we can just WALK out of the hall if it’s so dangerous?

DOCTOR: Will everyone, like, just be quiet for a minute?

NIGEL: What, so you can amaze us with more of your embarrassing brain damage?


[They all fold their arms at look at him. Most of the tourists leave, complaining of the smell.]

DOCTOR: [awkward] Um. Er. I sense the sound of gas.

ANDREW: You mean, you can "hear" it?


ANDREW: And is this lighter-than-air toxic gas one that can’t penetrate cotton?

DOCTOR: Maybe. [clears throat] It’s emanating from a grill on the side that this wall, like.

[He points to a large tapestry, billowing about visibly.]

DAVE: Why would anyone pump out gas behind a wall hanging? I mean, talk about drawing attention. Besides, why hang a drape over a grille, it’ll block it.

[Nigel rolls his eyes, tugs down the tapestry and kicks into a corner.]

DAVE: Yeah. Just like that. Asking for trouble.

NIGEL: [to Doctor] Better?

DOCTOR: Um. Yeah. That should cover the hole, like.

NIGEL: Good. Now sod off.

[They finally notice a rather angry old man in moustache and bowtie standing behind them.]


NIGEL: Jesus! Where did he spring from?


ANDREW: [thinks for a moment] No.

[That takes the wind out the old man’s sails a bit.]


NIGEL: The question you really ought to be asking is "do we care who you are"?

DAVE: A clue: no.


ANDREW: [yawns] Of course you are.


DAVE: Oh, so YOU’RE the one we sue.

MOUNT: [in a small voice] Sue?

DAVE: Yeah. We nearly asphyxiated thanks to your incompetence. This incredibly-stupid placed vent was pumping out a toxic, lighter-than-air gas. Either you people have very bad air conditioning or else someone was trying to kill your customers.

ANDREW: Mmmm. "See Hampton Court And Die". Heard worse advertising campaigns.


DAVE: Well, the Doctor here...

[He trails off when they all look across to see the Doctor has put on an iPod and is dancing around on the spot like a loser. Scissor Sisters blare from the speaker. Dave covers his eyes.]

DAVE: I fucking hate this guy.

DOCTOR: "Take your mama out all night! Yeah!"


ANDREW: I dunno. I think we’ll get a lot more done without him.


DAVE: Maybe. Gassing everyone in the building is a little harder to pass off as an accident than the first two. Whoever’s doing this must be getting really desperate


NIGEL: Christ. Do you have someone that looks after you? A grown-up we could talk to, maybe?


ANDREW: [shrugs] Dunno. [shrugs again] Don’t care.

DAVE: [waves] See you in Court, bitch. We’ll say hello to the anti-terrorism squads for you.

[They start to walk off. Mount headbutts the wall.]


ANDREW: [over his shoulder] Tell it to the police while you explain how you let innocent members of the public get gassed. Come to think of it, they should be here already.

[The Doctor crosses to Mount as he continues to bash his skull against the wall.]

DOCTOR: Don’t be, like, a pussy or something, guy. That’s probably what whoever is doing this wants. [blinks] Oh, wow, I think that, like, answers the motive question. Someone wants this place closed, like!

NIGEL: [over his shoulder] Good!

DOCTOR: It might be criminals, like, after priceless tapestries.


[The Doctor smiles pathetically.]

DOCTOR: Like, yeah. Unless, like, there’s more to it! Something like, more threatening than just theft?


DOCTOR: I dunno. Maybe something to do with that interference in the flow of time I, like, experienced.


DOCTOR: It’s just this timey wimey crap which might be relevant.


DOCTOR: ...Shut up, slag! Now, I suggest we hang round here surreptitiously, like, after its closed. And since you just closed, that should be easy. Come on, Mount boy! Cheer up! We’re gonna spend the night in a place full of booby traps designed to kill us all! Yay!

- to be continued...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Robin Hood 3.0 - Ecumenical Matters!

(aka Lost In Translation)

For the first-ever Guisborne-free episode of Robin Hood, I'm pleased to say they didn't rehash the plot like last week. Instead this almost entirely original with the most subtle continuity link I can think of, and I only spotted it because I watched Treasure of the Nation yesterday. In that, Vasey ransacks Kirklee's Abbey, and here we discover he found the biggest bit of blackmail imaginable: a homemade bible translated into English from the original Latin. A book like that would change the world and allow normal people to actually read what all this bloody religious stuff is all about, and is therefore considered heresy and progress depending on who you talk to. But for the Sherrif of Nottingham, it means blackmail of the Abbot of Kirklee's.

So, naturally, once the old sod returns from Rome for the first time in ages, Vasey threatens to destroy the Abbot's life's work unless the Church turns its whole effort into demonizing Robin Hood. Without Gizzy and less than a month to provide Prince John with the corpse of Robin, Vasey has pulled out the big guns. The Abbot is a hugely respected figure in society, and when he confirms Vasey's tale that Robin is possessed by Satan and orders the people of Locksley to turn in their savior, even Little John knows how fundamentally screwed they are. Of course, with Locksley being represented by Kate, her horrid mother and baby sister (who in a hideous retcon turns out to be the little girl from Total Eclipse), they all fold like a house of cards.

Tuck thus decides to do what he does best and screw around with the situation to make it more interesting, proving completely hypocritical compared to his behavior last week (though thankfully this is remarked upon by Robin, so someone's paying attention). With circumstances spiralling completely out of control, it's up to our heroes to save Tuck, put Vasey in his place and save the soul of the Abbot.

This is a lovely episode with a strong and intricate plot. Taking out Guisborne allows Vasey to hog the limelight as ever before, delighting in his own two-facedness as he tries to rally the peasants to his cause and completely-off-the-top-of-his-head making a bullshit story about being involved in a miracle while waving up "relics" he dug out of graves that day. Keith Allan has even more fun as usual, while the character grows increasingly annoyed that no one else is willing to indulge his theatrics any more unless they're in the middle of a church and the Abbot is constantly agreeing with him. He also gets to finally battle wits with Robin as they both talk for their reputations in front of the people and it's brilliant that this damn fine evil plan ends up with Vasey even worse off than before, unable even to get revenge on those who betrayed him.

As ever the only flaw is Kate and her tedious family. Once again there's a real feeling she's been edited in at the last moment. She's portrayed slightly more helpful and friendly this week, but she remains a two-dimensional cutout that somehow corrupts all around her. Much, despite being a real ladies' man when he pretends to be a minstrel and having clearly had some lessons in intergender relationships by Djaq, can barely talk to her for more than a few seconds at a time and totally relying on whispered advice from Alan. When Kate retorts that she has no feelings for him forever and pretty much blames him for everything under the sun, you can see the subtitle: "WE WILL SLEEP TOGETHER BEFORE THIS SEASON FINISHES". Even her one significant act to the plot of saving Robin is so bloody predictable it doesn't even count as a plot twist - the cruddy "flashback" to a scene three seconds previously smacks of padding, when even Lardner's Ring assumed the audience had enough intelligence to work it out herself. There's also a sub-Bottom bit of toilet humor that also sticks out like a sore thumb and makes me wonder if this episode was underrunning.

Kate's revolting mother and token villager once more threatens to be the only thing ever to make me want to fast forward through an episode, as she rants that Robin Hood - you know, the savior of the people whole villages build shrines to and everyone in town knows as the rightful ruler - is playing a war game with the Sheriff for selfish reasons. Is she retarded? Her screams of "Where were you when my son died?" really deserve a slap and "Where the fuck were YOU, bitch? You were hiding under a table and blaming everyone except yourself!" The hints that next week might be her final appearance simply can't come soon enough for me.

And Kate still doesn't do anything for me. She looks and acts like Phoebe from Friends, only less interestingly. All of this suggests to me that originally Eve would have returned but for some reason there's been a massive, last second rewrite and instead of recasting her, they've tried to make a completely different character out of her. Compare any scene of her with the bit where Alan and Tuck team up, with our former traitor once more proving he's got the most "Robin Hood"ness with bravery, intelligence, self-sacrifice and downright luck.

But with a surprisingly non-anachronistic plot, a new ongoing plot scenario, some Double-the-Fist style stunts and a heartwarming coda, Lost in Translation picks up after the relative drop in quality last week. The only problem with the story is a rather obvious device of swapping the translated Bible with another book, which no one even suggests trying!

NEXT TIME: um... not sure...
"Robin Hood's not here to save you now..."
A Robert Holmes double act of Kevin Eldon and maybe-Sean-Pertwee arrive in town to claim the clash Prince John wants and they don't intend to let anyone or anything stand in the way. Will Guisborne return? Will Kate's mother die horribly? Will Prince John finally show his ugly mug?


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hang on...

By accident or design, RTD's Doctor Who has managed to rip me off on more than one occasion.

I haven't seen Planet of the Dead yet, give or take a trailer, and it might be completely original. Or at least not based on one of my abandoned Youth of Australia scripts. But just to note that I actually came up with a story back in 2005 - just after I first met Sparacus, in fact - called Planet of Death.

The main thrust of the plot - which I later turned into a short story called Last Man Standing on, before my aborted Ninth Doctor novella Carribean Blue - basically concerned a very powerful, crude teleport. I was inspired by some Today Tonight style infomercial show explaining that the theory of teleportation was flawed: if you had a device capable of creating a perfect copy of a living thing, you would end up with two of them, one at either end of the teleport. Ergo, to achieve a proper teleportation, you'd have to destroy the original. (Dave Stone gave that idea a nice reference in The Slow Empire, by the by).

My idea was this teleport that would create another copy of the person, but transfer their spirit (for want of a better word) into the new body. Thus, as our hero teleports to safety, he leaves a corpse for the enemy to find and assume he's bought the bullet.

My story Carribean Blue/Planet of Death/Last Man Standing focussed on a deserted world where human colonists were being found dead, in fact whole chunks of forest destroyed, animals lifeless, birds falling from the sky and the cliffhanger of course the Doctor being found dead outside the TARDIS. The story would then move to the other end of the teleport and what the Doctor found there. The fact that he would meet all the supposedly dead people from the story lead to a kind afterlife vibe.

I must note however, that from what I've seen, features the Doctor and his pals on a bus that seemingly explodes, leaving corpses, while they are transported to a distant planet inhabited by "the dead".

Coincidence? Probably. Anything else would be less annoying.

Anyway, a feature presentation of the few bits of Carribean Blue I finished before I discovered Rob Shearman had already done the whole story and called it The Cruel Sea.


The rest room was one of several placed throughout the Stormeye, though it was the only one being used at this time of night. With the ship grounded on the planet, the two pilots had found themselves with little to do and no interest in doing what little there was.

Eljay Loobanz had been the first to hit upon the idea of reprogramming the food dispensers to create plitka martinis, though it was Macdon Alexis who actually knew how to achieve it. Since that time most of their evenings had been spent in one rest room, trying to stave off boredom. They had read, watched and studied about every possible bit of entertaining information aboard the ship, and had by the end of the second week been reduced to story-telling.

"So, remember," Eljay with drunken earnest, "this little blue-green planetoid is way, way, way out. And the regular flow of galactic traffic? Can’t even be seen on the extra-long-long-long-long range scanners. That’s how far out this little mudball is. Just these two young love birds, an and..." Eljay shook his head and focussed his clouded wits, "...and an isolated, uninhabited complex," he finished, enunciating every single syllable with undue care and attention.

Macdon leant back on the chair and studied his fellow pilot, pausing only to blink.

"You forgot to mention the outside," he reminded Eljay with a half-hearted frown.

"Did I? Oh, yeah, so I did. The outside... Yeah, the outside. Rough. Unruly. Lots of trees. So, there’s this couple in the base. And, you know, fixing circuit boards and stuff gets boring. And well, there’s only so much... ahem... recreation you can do before even that starts to lose its appeal."

"Oh, I wouldn’t think so," Macdon shrugged.

Eljay ignored him. "Anyway, they’re bored. Bored to tears. They are – dare I even to think it? – even more bored than we are at the moment," he added with venom. "So they get into a flyer, right? Watch the sunset on the valley, skim past a cliff, watch the sun go down. All that rubbish."

"And the flyer breaks down in mid-flight?" Macdon suggested, draining his tumbler dry.

Eljay scowled. "You know this one?"

"Nope," Macdon shurgged, dropping the empty glass onto the table. "You’re just very, very predictable."

"I am not. Go on, guess what happens next!"

"If I do you’ll just change the story."

"I’ll lay you five to one I won’t."



"OK," Macdon said, pouring himself a fresh tumbler. "The flyer breaks down and after a lot of near-death thrills, our hero manages to land the damned thing in the middle of a deep dark spooky cave."

"Actually, it was a forest," Eljay corrected huffily.

"Forest. Whatever. And the hero decides to walk back to the base to get a fresh flyer, but the other one..." Macdon leant forward and knocked back his drink in one swallow. "I forget the genders of this particular relationship. The other one insists on following. And they head off into the dark wood when they find this creepy old castle, full of lots of weird people singing and dancing and..."

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no," Eljay replied smugly, shaking his head from side to side with such force he found himself unable to stop that momentum for a full two minutes after he’d finished speaking. "It’s not like that at all. Completely different, in fact."

"Sure. Shall we have another bottle while you think up a new set of cliches?"

"It’s not a cliché. This is a true story. Happened to friends of a friend of my friend."

"You have no friends," Macdon laughed. "Just ex’s."

"Look, you’re right for some of it. But it’s completely different. Now I come to think about it." Eljay rubbed his empty glass between his palms, absorbed in the patterns of light on its rim. "The hero decides to go back to the base. Yeah. But the other one – cause I forget if it’s guys or girls or both, but it’s not a hundred per cent relevant... Where was I? Oh, right. The hero, he wanders off into the woods. And it’s getting dark. And although the sun’s still above the horizon, it’s not reaching the forest."

Macdon tried to whistle with sarcastic surprise but instead it came out as a slightly sinister sigh.

"Do you mind?" Eljay snapped. "Now, the other one – let’s call her a guy – the guy stays in the flyer. Hears something rustling in the undergrowth. And like, we all know this planet is uninhabited, so the guy’s a bit freaked. He pulls the door closed and locks it and sets on the communicator. And guess what? It’s not working! Nothing in the flyer is working, it’s like its dropped dead or something."

"How very ominous." Macdon hiccuped.

"Anyway, the flyer’s structurally all right, and its safe for our guy to just hide in there. After a while, whatever’s outside clears off. And the guy, he starts to get a bit drowsy. Drowsy, drowsy, drowsy. Starts to nod off... into a macro-sleep." Eljay inhaled deeply as a warmth began to cloud his head. "I’m awake. Like that. Snap." Eljay tried and failed to snap his fingers. "Wide awake."

"So?" Macdon urged with no real interest.

"Well, what woke him up was this weird nose. This sort of ‘erk’ noise. ‘Erk’. A little pause, then ‘erk’. Over and over again. And the guy looks around the flyer, through all the windows. It’s pretty dark out there, but the rustling thing? No sign of it. Just ‘erk... erk’. Does that noise scare you?"

"More like irritates."

"Exactly," Eljay beamed happily. "After a minute, that noise has gone from scary to curious, to boring, to irritating. Soon, the guy’s completely calm and gets out of the flyer. And he looks around. The same noise ‘erk... erk’ a bit louder because he’s outside now, but nothing else. Wanders all the way around the flyer. Not a thing. Not a thing."

"Except the noise."

"Well, of course the noise! That goes without saying, doesn’t it? Finally, the guy gives up and turns to get back into the flyer. And then he sees it."

Macton tried to arch an eyebrow.

"The hero, as you so crudely called him, is there. Dangling from a rope, tangled round his broken neck. Something strung him up from a tree over the flyer. He never got to the base. And his head’s dangling at this horrible sort of... angle, and his tongue’s poking out and his eyes are open."

Macton licked his lips, turning his attention to his empty tumbler.

"Now, as you can imagine," Eljay continued remorselessly, "seeing your lover like that, never a good thing. But to find something killed him, on an uncharted planet, that’s you’re not alone and worse that other thing is a cold-blooded homicidal maniac... Well, the guy’s freaked. So freaked, hah, that he doesn’t hear the thing that killed the other guy creeping up behind him. He does, however, feel the sharp fur and the claws digging into his flesh. And then he feels nothing at all."

Eljay burst into what he hoped would be a peal of diabolical laughter, but ran out breath and was soon all but collapsing in a coughing fit.

Finally he was able to breathe in and out again normally and he noticed that Macdon had not laughed or indeed made any kind of agreeable noise. In fact, his expression was slightly grave as he looked over Eljay’s shoulder. With more effort than was dignified, Eljay managed to follow his gaze.

Palleen was standing in the doorway of the store room. Her mouth was a thin line, but her breathing was faster than normal and there was a trace of panic in her eyes. The knuckles on her left hand were white as she gripped the doorframe.

"What?" Eljay grunted. "Come on, Palleen, it’s just a story!"

Palleen didn’t reply, but simply swallowed and looked tired.

"So, er, Palleen," Macdon said brightly. "Did you need anything at all?"

She didn’t reply, merely turned and left.

Eljay sighed and sank deep into his chair, rubbing a hand over his bleary gaze. "How much do you think she heard?" he asked quietly, his voice low and dry.

Macdon shrugged. "I’d say circa the moment the guy realized the flyer wasn’t working."

Eljay blew out his cheeks. "Jacobs!" he groaned. "Vlyn is going to irradiate me."

"Very probably."

"This is just unfair. I mean, I didn’t even know she was there. And if she’s so upset, she could have told me to stop or interrupted... Something! It’s not like I’m banned from the old telling of dark fables of blood-chilling terror, now is it?"

"Actually..." Macdon belched.

"All right! So, it is a slight breaking of the rules, but I was doing it in private! I wasn’t hurting anyone!"

"What about me?" Macdon retorted. "That was the worst excuse for a thriller plot since the last Glittergun movie! You wouldn’t know decent stories, plots, character development or linear narrative if you saw a lecture of... suitable authors." Another belch. "What are you going to do?"

Eljay moistened his dry teeth. "Damage limitation."


Palleen Kadijah was slumped in a side corridor, hugging her knees to her chest, trying to stay calm. She wasn’t a particularly nervous person or easily-frightened; indeed, her level-headedness was the main factor she had been chosen for the mission.

Two figures appeared at the end of the passage. One stocky and hairy, the other slimmer in build with a trim beard. Palleen relaxed ever-so-slightly. It was just Eljay and Macdon, swaying uncertainly from their binge drinking.

She didn’t emerge from hiding, however.

"That story was awful, by the way," Macdon said abruptly, balancing himself on the wall.

"What?" Eljay replied, scandalized. "That’s a classic!"

"It doesn’t make a bit of sense. How come these hairy monsters can live on a planet without being detected, huh? It defies logic."

"There’s only the one monster..."

"Even so. And how did the creature manage to make the flyer break down?"

"I don’t know, I didn’t write it. Maybe it was just a coincidence."

"And why did it go to all the trouble of killing the hero and hanging him? Why didn’t it just kill him and the other one the same way? Why did it want to kill them at all? And if they both died, then how the Jacobs did we ever find out about this story? It’s just rubbish!"

"Your trouble is you pay too much attention to details. Not everything in life has an explanation, you know!"

"Of course I do. You’re living proof."

Palleen could feel herself relaxing. Yes, the story was stupid and cliched. No reason to upset her. Just a story. She let out a sigh, ignoring the headache in her head.


Gelver was sitting at the central console on the flight deck, working at the computer terminal. On the forward screen was a recorded sequence of the Electrodes’ latest hit single. It had taken Gelver three days of editing and re-programming to get rid of the rest of the band and the background images, isolating the one musician he was interested in – the sonic tambourine-player.

He punched in the command he had spent the last hour on watch programming and watched as the computer worked. The short T-shirt sleeve of the girl rapidly changed colour until it was identical to her marble skin-tone, then its material began to soften. The program completed itself and now the musician’s arm was completely bare.

Satisfied, Gelver began to repeat the program on the tambourine-player’s chest when he heard footsteps and voices from the port-side corridor that lead to the rest of the ship. Sighing, Gelver saved the re-edited recording and shut down the program. The forward screen was now showing the dark woods outside.

His expression soured as Eljay and Macdon entered – Gelver didn’t have much time for pilots, or indeed for anyone for that matter. "What are you two mental defectives doing out of bed?" he sneered.

"I’d tell you," Eljay offered, "but it’d probably make your hair turn white... er," he added, waving in the direction of Gelver’s albino mop, contrasting with his chocolate-coloured skin.

The Commisar’s aide winced at the smell of homemade plitka martinis – at least, that’s what he assumed the smell was of. Gelver was well within his rights to charge both of the pilots with both drunken behaviour and illegal possession of alcohol on a frontier planet. However, that would put at risk the private flask of spiced wines Gelver he kept in his quarters, so he let the matter slide.

Macdon, who seemed to be the more sober of the two, gave a stern look at the floor beside Gelever’s chair. "We want you to put a trace on Palleen, you know, find her."

"I do know what ‘putting a trace on someone’ means, you despicable heathen," Gelver snapped. "Why? What have you two gone and done now?"

"Hypothetically speaking?" offered Eljay with manic optimism.

"If you like."

"Well, let us suppose for some reason that two hardened pilots were exchanging the usual horrific anecdotes of hideous stuff happening on unexplored, uncharted planets and just hypothetically speaking, maybe the extremely overwrought psyche-tech who’s been cracking up for the last three weeks overheard the blood-curdling details and then ran off."

Gelver stared at the duo. Then he smirked. Then he started laughing.

"You two are dead meat when Vlyn finds out," he cackled.

Eljay scowled, knowing that just this once Gelver wasn’t simply exaggerating. "The state she’s in, the lights going out could have been..." He fumbled for a suitable phrase. "...just as bad as her hearing that story. Anything could have set her off."

"Sure, sure," the aide chuckled.

"I mean it," Eljay insisted. "Why did they send her out here if she was so instable?"

"Unstable," Macdon corrected.

"That too," Eljay agreed. "Look, just locate her bracelet."

Gelver continued laughing, deliberately stringing out the sequence he was punching up on the computer. "Then what? Why don’t I teleport you right behind her to scare the wits out of her? Can’t make things much worse than they already are?"

"Gelver," said Macdon gravely, "has anyone told you you’ve got a truly remarkable sense of humor?"

Gelver tittered. "Once or twice," he revealed.

"Then they were lying. Just do it."

Gelver’s laughter broke off and, after another scowl, began working on the console.


Palleen was running on fear and adrenaline, but even these were starting to fail her now. She had no idea where she was in relation to the colony, having lost all sense of direction negotiating a field of knee-high grass and running up a ridge of rock that pushed out of the earth. She had fallen over the other side into a clearing with enough force to knock the breath from her body.

They’re coming.

Not giving herself time to recover, Palleen had hauled herself to her feet and raced straight into the bushes on the other side of the clearing. Now she was in a valley she’d never been to before, near a river lined with stained gravel. Low-growing bushes were huddled down beside the water, their leathery leaves rattling in the cold, sharp-smelling breeze. They seemed to be alive, watching her.

They’re coming to get you.

The thought was as terrifying as ever, but Palleen’s body was struggling to stay conscious – there was no way she could sprint off across the thick damp grass to the rest of the forest on the mountainside. She was left in this wild, clean place, in the dark, with only the sounds of flying creatures as company.

And then she noticed it.

There was silence. Complete silence. Her breathing was loud and rough in her ears, followed closely by her thumping heart. But apart from that, the silence was absolute. Massive. Deafening. It was like a roaring in her ears, getting louder and louder and louder and louder.

They’re coming for you. They’re right on top of you.

The roaring silence was swallowing up even her desperate pants for air and her heartbeat slamming in her chest. The mist seemed to be gathering around her in ways she wasn’t quite sure she could conceive, and there were shapes forming in the fog, shadows of... things. Things that were not human, sometimes not even humanoid, but intelligent. Shadows, phantoms, lurching towards her.

Shadows awoken from their sleep.

Shadows that were lonely.

So very, very lonely.

And they’re coming for you.

The chiming of her bracelet dragged her attention away from the shadowy figures and suddenly she was alone in the valley, only the faintest bruised track in the grass to show her where she’d come from. She plucked the band from her wrist and threw it into the grass, before hurrying onwards for the trees. She’d wasted so much time. She had to get away from here before the shadows in the fog returned.

Too late. Too late. No more time.

More trees. Was there anything on this world apart from trees? And ghosts? And... and...
She finally ran out of energy in the depths of this patch of woods. The overhanging branches blocked off any light that was forming in the sky as the sun rose. Surely daybreak would stop this? Daybreak would end this madness. Wouldn’t it?

Too late. Far too late.

Palleen reached the edge of another clearing just as a breeze began to pick up around Palleen, wafting through the trees towards her. Grey clouds were rolling in across the gloomy sky from the east.

No more time left. Nowhere left to run.

Was that thunder booming in the distance?

No, it was something closer to her.

The rumbling was coming from the very ground in front of her. With a splintering crack, a patch of the earth suddenly was ripped open, a fissure large enough for her to fall through if she approached it. Even as she watched, it suddenly widened with a sound like lightning striking. Coiling tendrils of black smoke began to seep out of the fissure, smoke that smelt of... water evaporating.

The smoke increased, billowing as the wind howled through the forest. Birds were screaming and flying around madly. Something had been unleashed. Something inside the fissure. Something evil. More smoke belched out of the ground.

Palleen turned and ran through the trees. Then she was brought short.

There was something up ahead of her in the forest, coming from the west as the evil behind her swept in from the east. There was a faint glow between two distant trees, a blue haze getting brighter and brighter. It was coming for her.

Nowhere left. Nothing. No way out.

Palleen remembered her belt and pulled it from her waist. Her hands were shaking, but she knew there was only one way to escape the smoke behind her and the blue light in front of her. The only way out. And she would take it because she simply would not accept the others.

In front of her the blue glow was spreading outwards, between the trees, seeming to engulf it and all the time getting brighter and brighter, shifting from dark blue to turquoise via cyan. The area it covered was lost in the brightness as it swept across the forest towards her.

They’re not coming. They’re here.

Palleen had managed to make a reasonable noose at both ends of the belt. Frantically she clambered up on top on a rock next to the nearest tree. She grabbed the nearest branch and looped one end over it, and the other around her neck. She had to do this quickly before the doubt got to her and made her reconsider.

The air itself was humming with power. The azure light was scant metres from her.

"I’m sorry," she said sadly and jumped off the rock.

There was a jolt of pain over her neck, a moment of incredible dizziness and massive burst of pain in her arms and legs as if her whole body had been slammed against the ground. Indeed, maybe it had. She cracked her eyes open and saw she was now lying on the ground, looking straight at the glow.

They’re not coming. Because they’re already here.

The noose was tight around her throat, enough to make breathing difficult, but not enough to escape the light as it expanded over the ground towards her. She couldn’t summon up the energy to run, or move or do anything but let the glowing wall rush towards her.

The light seemed almost like a physical force, washing over Palleen like a wave. The pressure seemed to be building up, crushing her. It was as though her very soul was being squeezed out of her body. The light grew more intense, blocking out even that awful sensation.

They’re back.


Gelver punched the receive control on the forward console as it began to chime. "Have you found her?" he asked the communicator.

Macdon’s voice replied, "No. We found her bracelet, she must have dropped it or something."

"Or taken it off," Gelver suggested.

"Why would she do a thing like that?" Macdon demanded.

"Why has she run off into those woods in the middle of the night? How should I know?"

"Eljay’s having a scout-round, I mean she could have gone anywhere," Macdon continued, before breaking off. "Oh, where’s he got to now?" His words were now slightly blurring, as if he were speaking through a layer of water.

Gelver frowned and adjusted the frequency. It did not improve; if anything, it had gotten slightly worse.

"Something wrong?" he asked. "Your transmission’s distorting."

"Seems to be all right... Wait. There’s something over there!"

"What? Is it Palleen?"

"No, it’s something blue," came the reply. The words were now muffled and slurred. A faint crackle became audible in the background. "A sort of glow or something – an energy shield? It’s blue and silver and... something else... I... my head... this brilliant blue light all around us... where..."

The crackling, sparking noise suddenly grew louder, blotting out the next few syllables. Gelver listened to the flat for of static for a moment before flipping down the volume. He turned to the forward screen, only to see a swirl of static. He flicked through the channels, but whatever the interference was it was blocking out every one of the Stormeye’s sensors.

He tried the communicator again. "Macdon?" he yelled over the crackle. "Eljay? Macdon!"

Nothing but static.

Gelver looked up at the screen and felt nervous for the first time in months. It was not a pleasant sensation.

"What’s happening out there?!" he complained.

No one answered.


The Doctor strode across the clearing, delving into his inside jacket pocket to remove his sonic screwdriver. As he reached the door, his keen senses detected a faint noise from behind him. A kind of soft, deep sighing, like something breathing heavily.

The Time Lord stopped by the door, listening.

The breathing noise was getting louder, coming from his... left.

The Doctor spun around to face the corner of the building as something ducked around said corner and out of sight. The Time Lord’s sharp features softened into a pleased expression and he dropped his sonic screwdriver into his pocket. "Ah," he said cheerfully. "You’ve finally come to see the neighbors, have you? A cup of sugar needed? Glass of water? Plate of milk? Or do you just want to say hello?"

Silence. There wasn’t even the breathing noise.

The smile began to leave the Doctor’s face. "You can hear me and I know you understand me. I know you’re out here. You’ve been following me and my friends since we arrived. There’s no need to hide – we can talk like civilized aliens, you know."

Despite his natural confidence and curiosity, the Doctor was suddenly feeling distinctly uneasy. He was fairly certain that the temperature had dropped. He folded his arms and listened. Bar the sound of the wind whistling through the branches there was nothing. No breathing noises, no bird calls, no natural sounds. He frowned as he noticed a curious pulsing, before realizing he was hearing his twin hearts beating.

Slightly more rapidly than he’d have liked.

"I’ve all day you know," the Time Lord challenged.


The Doctor, arms still folded, began to stroll towards the corner. "Do I have to count to one hundred or something?" he demanded as he reached the edge of the wall. The thing was beyond it, he was sure.

"All right," he shrugged. "One..."

The moment he spoke the silence was broken.

To his left, the Doctor heard something cry out. He turned to face it, and found himself staring into the woods. Something deep within had made that noise, a strange wail. But now there was nothing, nothing but silence. And the rapid beating of his hearts.

"Where was I?" the Doctor asked himself, still not taking his eyes off the forest. "Oh, yes, counting to a hundred before I go and find you. Now, one. Two. Skip a few. Ninety-nine. A hundred!"

The Time Lord lunged around the corner and turned to face...

...nothing. The thing wasn’t there. Just the smooth surface of the colony wall.

Either it had somehow managed to smuggle itself away when the Doctor’s attention had been caught by that noise, or there was some kind of secret entrance. The Doctor ran his hands over the smooth metal surface. No secret door. And why have one in a colony less than a year old?

So, it had gone. Not past him into the forest because he would have seen it, and not along the wall because it would still be visible. So that left straight up.

The Doctor looked up, remembering the last time he’d been in such a situation and found himself staring a particularly aggressive alien monster fused to a ceiling. But there was no monster, no alien, nothing. There were also no nearby ledges that the creature could have reached and hidden behind.

"And unless it had a teleport," the Doctor continued this train of thought out aloud, "that leaves one direction, rather, doesn’t it?"

He looked at the ground beneath his feet. It was smothered in a carpet of dying leaves.

The Time Lord crouched down to examine it when the silence was broken by the rustling noise, around ten metres away from him in the nearby clump of trees. He turned to face the source of the noise but he couldn’t see the creature. He couldn’t hear it, either. The rustling had ended and the breathing noise had not returned. And nothing was moving.

"This is getting old," the Doctor announced, unimpressed.

A twig snapped to his right.

The Time Lord’s eyes flickered in the direction the noise, but was not surprised to see nothing there.

"I’ll just go inside, you know. I’m a busy Time Lord, no time to hang around in dead forests while you lot try desperately to be stealthy."

There was a cry. This time it was more of a soft wail. The noise of something dead for a very long time, something that didn’t want to be here, that didn’t even want to exist.

"Bravo," the Doctor grunted as silence returned. "Bye then."

He turned to head back to the airlock and took his screwdriver to the entry coder.

Suddenly the whole forest seemed to come to life, a flurry of chaotic noises breaking the deathly stillness. The trees were swaying, the bushes trembling as something began to charge through the forest straight through the branches towards him.

The Doctor decided to concentrate on unlocking the door.

Out of the corner of his eye, the thing emerged from the woods.

And charged straight for him.

"Anyone on the other side, feel free to step in and open the door!" the Doctor said, not quite keeping the worry from his voice as blue energy spilt from the sonic screwdriver across the locking mechanism. The ultra-sonic vibrations should have struck the right code by now. He’d spent sixteen days straight programming all the lock codes he could think of into the machine.

It would be just typical if he’d missed this one.

The thing was advancing across the leafy clearing towards him.

"I’m not proud, I don’t mind being let inside!" the Doctor shouted, shaking his screwdriver to change the frequency all to aware that the thing was almost upon him. Unfortunately, he shook the screwdriver slightly too forcefully and the sonic device was flung into the leaves on the ground.

The Doctor reached down to pick it back up when a hand clamped around his wrist.

The Time Lord looked up at the owner of said hand.

"Mind if I cut in?" asked Captain Jack Harkness, standing in the open doorway.

The Time Lord was hauled straight into the warm, bright interior of the colony as the stalker leapt the last few metres towards him, but the door was already sliding closed. Its claws skittered across the doorway with sparks as the portal shut completely, leaving it outside in the forests.

The newcomers were with the colonists and out of reach.

For now.

And now to lighten the mood, a page from The Youth of Australia Annual.